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Phuket Opinion: Technology the driving force in making Phuket's roads safer

PHUKET: It is to Phuket’s continuing international shame that we rate as the most dangerous province in Thailand for road deaths, which itself is ranked as 14th most dangerous country in the world.

opinion, tourism, transport, technology, accidents, death, police,

The Phuket News

Sunday 25 September 2016, 09:00AM

A police officer uses a speed camera on Phuket's busy, and dangerous, bypass road. Photo: Mark Knowles
A police officer uses a speed camera on Phuket's busy, and dangerous, bypass road. Photo: Mark Knowles

The recent announcement of the helmet detection/face recognition cameras to be installed at five locations in Phuket, at a cost of B16 million, seems like a step in the right direction for improving rates of helmet use on the island. The cameras will reportedly scan number plates and combine them with face-recognition data to automatically issue fines to the vehicle owner’s registered address. (See story here.)

This latest measure comes on top of an increase in the number of speed-detection guns and alcohol breathalysers in use by the Phuket Provincial Police in the past year. The fact that this recent uptake in road safety technology has been driven by the UK-based non-profit Safer Roads Foundation can be read as a positive sign that local authorities are taking note of international standards and practices for road safety.

At first look, it seems that fines issued to the vehicle’s registers owner may not end up punishing the person who was actually operating it, but process is still an important step in creating an accountable system for traffic offences. By automatically issuing fines to the registered owner, it avoids the grey area of on-the-spot fines issued by police, which arguably have little impact on rider behaviour.

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Once fines are legally issued and recorded, it begins to pave the way for the creation of a demerit-point style system which takes into account a person’s past driving behaviour and is ultimately able revoke their licence, and even hand down custodial sentences, after a certain number of infractions.

Despite the inevitable cries of, “It wasn’t me!”, if the system is maintained and unpaid fines have legal consequences, it could begin to encourage and strengthen the overall culture of road-safety and encourage personal responsibility for who is allowed to drive a vehicle registered under your name.

Again, despite the inevitable problems with rolling out such a system, both technological and legal, we should all encourage these efforts and acknowledge them as the initial scaffolding necessary to create a system that will hold people accountable for both the vehicles they own and their own actions on the road.



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Kurt | 06 October 2016 - 09:55:04

malczx7r: All you bring up is very true, but it is up to the person in question to wear a helmet or not.
He/she should be aware of safety when he/she is the main earner. 
They should realize about brain damage.
And hospital staff? They treat with care, and get paid for their work.
Hospital staff see daily silly road accident people coming in.
No where you see daily so many ambulances 'racing' to hospitals with road accident victims as on Phuket. 
Well, we all see the motorbikes driving 80 km/hr or more, yes?
Just 1 hand to steer, and other hand for the phone call or a cigarette, to keep it out of the speed wind. Right?
I have a lot of it on my dash cam.

Often you 'meet' them again at next traffic light ( if they respect the red light).
Do you dare to say something to them about no helmet and violating the speed with more than 40km/hr?
I do not.
Speeding people are mostly people to release their frustrations by speeding.

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Rorii | 05 October 2016 - 17:17:10

swerv..we all, including Kurt, understands what budgets are, and how they are obtained, but we all know that part of an islands budget SHOULD be put aside for road maintenance,

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malczx7r | 05 October 2016 - 13:34:40

Christy Sweet,.... "The decision to wear or not wear a helmet is a personal choice that impacts no one but one's self"  Not true, what about the hospital staff dealing with people who are injured, families who loose their main earner, people who don't die but become brain damaged and then need constant care.

Yes I agree the van drivers and minicabs drive appallingly and need to be targeted, and along with the other comments of no lights at night, trying to see a motorcyclist at night with no lights on is a major headache!!

Yes helmets can cause a slight hearing and vision loss but only generally full faced helmets and as for noise, if riding a motorbike then hearing protection i.e. earplugs should be worn as the wind noise is a major factor in causing hearing loss in motorcyclists, if you are paying attention to the road then and looking in your mirrors then the reduction in hearing is not an issue, playing music in your car with the windows shut probably is more of a hearing issue than these helmets.  Plus i've seen how loosely these people have helmets, most of them don't fit tight enough to cause hearing reduction, a good fitted helmet should pinch the cheeks slightly, they can take them on and off single handed here as they approach the police so fit is incorrect!

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swerv | 04 October 2016 - 16:29:47

Jeez Kurt: What a miserable life you must lead....moan, moan, moan.
Yes you do need my advice on this because you seem to be ignorant on how Phuket receives income. It's called a budget and if the local authority have spent their allocated funds...there is no more money. Nothing to do with corruption.
And, another book? Can't make sense of half of it.

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Kurt | 04 October 2016 - 09:30:20

swerv, you could have spare you the effort of reacting.
We not need your advice in this.
We all  know how the financial system works, including budget 'dividing' as well.

But it is silly that there is no permanent money budget available on Phuket for immediate road repairs, like DANGEROUS potholes, etc.
Did you read that sometimes Phuket inhabitants are so tired of waiting (months!)for repairs that they themselves buy a bag of cement and close dangerous potholes near their homes?
How far can a Phuket government 'sink' with all this?
So funny that such simple money matters  have to occupy government staff in BKK first.
Stone age way executing road repairs.

And this Phuket wants to become a internet- and smart city hub?
That is one bridge to far! Get first normal things working/done smoothly.

Technology the driving force to keep Phuket's road safe?
Hahaha, Maintain and repairing roads don't need technology.
Just being proactive and keep the Phuket roads safe.
Is that to much to ask?

Obviously the so by you called thai financial system is not providing road safety.
When it rains, is it just water on the road in front of you, or a large deep pot hole?
You tell me.

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swerv | 04 October 2016 - 07:30:16

Kurt: Please familiarize yourself with how the financial system works. Phuket has to ask for a budget from Bangkok for small and large projects. Income generated on Phuket does not stay in Phuket it goes to central government in Bangkok.

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Kurt | 03 October 2016 - 12:57:44

For large potholes and other road repairs is no money available.
Always the same song: "have to ask for budget".
For enormous amount of money costing useless 'projects', wow, money falling down with the monsoon rain, just with a finger click.
Guess why.

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Kurt | 03 October 2016 - 08:28:46

Mother Theresa of Patong,  Yup, you are right!
Actually, it would be interesting to learn , after installation of these few cams, to read a financial report how that full amount of 16 Million was spent.
We never will know that of course.

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Mother Theresa of Patong | 02 October 2016 - 16:32:47

They already have the cctv on all the major junctions. This new 16 million system won't make any difference to road safety across the Island and if they can keep the cameras operational will just be used as a cash cow to raise revenue.

If they are going to enforce the law then they should enforce all the traffic laws (motorbikes with illegal side cars, no brake lights etc) and not be selective about it

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Christy Sweet | 28 September 2016 - 13:56:58

Using the logic of some commentators  on this topic, one should be forced to wear a helmet while driving a car, a condom while having sex and never, ever be allowed to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.
 The decision to wear or not wear a helmet is a personal choice that impacts no one but one's self yet a hugely disproportionate amount of time and resources are spent enforcing this law. It is all about harassment of lower income persons.

Somchai on his motosai without a helmet has no impact on my safety. In fact I can argue his vision and hearing are actually encumbered by helmets- making him an even more hazardous driver.

Stop the cars, vans and trucks that drive in unsafe manners. That's what will bring the road fatality statistics down.

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